Joinery on the road

Wood does many things. One thing it does, is move. It swells and twists and bends over time. Most woodworkers consider wood movement a bad thing. Something else  I’ve learnt about wood is that it talks. Wood can tell stories and teach lessons. Sometimes it does both those things, move and talk, at the same time, as did the Buddhist text storage chests I saw in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand.

Dovetails in Chiang Rai
Every temple has at least one, sometimes several, of varying design, decoration and state of decay. For me the most dilapidated chests were the most interesting. The chests are usually painted with thick layer of lacquer that smothers and softens every edge, corner and surface, hiding any clue that under the shiny surface is a wooden box.

Dovetails in Chiang Rai
As the climate and time thumps away, the chest’s wood moves, breaks through the surface and it starts talking. The chest tells how it was constructed with dovetail joints, some more than a decent hand span wide and often nailed through the tail.


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